mercredi 27 octobre 2010

A concession to Maria


The Tulip tree


It is perfectly quiet. There is only the sound of the logs burning in the wood stove and Rapide's soft snoring to mask the only other possible sound, besides my fingers tap-tap-tapping on the keyboard: Shadow's fireside bath.

Fia is napping in her corner of the kitchen, and the leaves are turning yellow, rust and gold out in the garden, past the French window. I am stuck on the sofa, mostly, having strained the left dorsal lifting a bag of old concrete, sand and dirt that had soaked up too much of the recent heavy rains out in the still unfinished courette d'entrée. My husband had decided that we were at least finally getting rid of the latest impressive crop of plastic bags, filled just to the point where I could still carry them from one end of the uppermost terrace to the other end 20 meters away near the gate, were -- they sat. For a good long moment.

I had other things to do.

It started out a just little pain. The kind of pain that ask that you take but polite, slight notice of it, making a little wince of annoyance when you turn or go to lift the dishes to set the table, which you do because your husband's attention span does not permit him to get further than the place mats, the plates and a couple of glasses before he gets distracted by the television between the verres à pieds and the water glasses for the kids and the silverware.

"On a besoin de couteaux?" he asks when he eventually returns. Every time.

"On a toujours besoin de couteaux," I reply -- every time --, and then he wanders off again to stand in front of the television. Returning, he notes the completed glasses and the silverware.

"Ah! Mais tu l'as fini!," he exclaims with enough étonnement in his voice to convince you he really is still surprised -- every time -- that he has been gone long enough for you to complete the job. "J'allais revenir le finir, tu sais," he adds for good measure.

"Oui," I tell him -- every time--, "je le sais."

It was after lunch when I couldn't move any more. The pain came on progressively as I struggled to bend my knees to pick up light things I could limp over to the car, while he loaded it for the dump runs, expanding to include an ever larger area of the left side of my back until it spasmed, stopping me in the middle of an attempt to rise from the sofa, where I had finally retreated to watch the beginning of the women's Masters tournament. It hurt to gasp in pain.

Maria was maybe a little bit right. I suspected it had really all begun when I was raking the ivy up the flames to get it all to turn to ash the evening before. Rakes are back killers. Not, of course, that I plan on heeding Maria's admonishments. Little enough gets done around here. If I waited for my husband to take his next days off from the hospital, never mind.

"Je sais," said my husband, on a trip through the house. He used to specialize in what the French still call quaintly, I have remarked before in this blog, lumbago, until I got him to start working with my personal trainer, who is a genius. Unfortunately, he is also working at opening his own training center right now, and we're on our own.

Lumbago. It sounds like it should be part of a stew, or a beach dance at Club Med.

He had things to do, however, before he could get to the pharmacie, like take a shower.

"J'ai envie d'une douche," he pronounced in a tone I dared not contradict, despite my pain. "Je me sens sal, et je voudrais prendre une douche avant de partir."

I considered this, and it seemed to me that if I were planning on asking him to be my slave all evening, it might be right to let him have a shower before I started with my requests from the sofa. Besides, I had taught Lamaze. I knew how to breathe through the pain, and a yoga class or two had taught me to breath to the muscle screaming at me.

By the time I had taken two Aleve, rested several hours with the hot compress against my offended muscle and had the muscle relaxing ointment rubbed into it, I was moving around again like an agile and spritely old woman.

"Regards!" I said brightly to my husband, seated at the end of the dining table in front of his solitaire game, his face lit by his computer screen. He looked up and watched me approach, upright (I had earlier taken 5 minutes to cross the living room on elbows and knees, keening like the gypsy women in the Métro with their poor, drugged babies and young children). "J'ai regagné au moins 80% de mon mouvement!"

"Attention," he cautioned me. "N'en fais pas trop. C'est l'Aleve." It was, he said, the Aleve that was making me as spry as a 90-year-old former martial arts professional with mild arthritis, and I'd only do more damage to the muscle if I lost sight of this precious fact. I crept back to my place on the sofa and stayed very still until bedtime, when I took another.

Today, I let the 12 hours pass, just, you know, to see what would happen. A muscle spasm reaching for my laptop sent me creeping for the box and a glass of water.

Today's program: canceled.

At least there are no more sacs of sodden stuff in the courtyard, and now you must excuse me. It's time to take Mlle Fia Lux out to faire pipi and then settle on the sofa for Doha.
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